I open the windows to let in some fresh air and get hit by a wall. I immediately decide to shut the windows again. Air conditioning? Really? I turn it on and it´s a relief. I still need to adjust to the completely new climate, everything smells different, looks different and is organized in a different way. Speaking of differences, since today I also know that in Thailand you should avoid pinpointing or stepping with your foot at or on something, as the foot is regarded something unclean and dirty (in fact my feet were quite dirty..). So when I wanted to show another participant something on a poster that was lying on the floor and I used my foot to point towards the issue, I raised some indignant looks. First cultural brick dropped.
Since Friday a group of young adults is gathering at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. They are all participants of the Chulalongkorn Right Livelihood Summer School (CURLS), a joint event of the Right Livelihood Colleges (RLC), the Chulalongkorn University, the Wellbeing Studies Programme and several other organisations which is taking place in and around Bangkok for the next two weeks. The aim of the summer school is to get familiar with the concepts of Right Livelihood, Participatory Action Research and link this to current urban and rural food challenges. The participants´ backgrounds and interests are diverse and range from work with single women in India to Ecotourism in Vietnam to environmental education with Buddhist values in Thailand. We have representatives from the Royal University of Bhutan and PhD students from the States. I am representing the Youth Future Project, the youth association of the RLAF and I will mainly be responsible for feeding this blog.
(In the Picture, second from the left- Vice President of Royal University of Buthan and participants)
After a rather official first day with introductory key note speeches, we got into a familiar working atmosphere today. The main focus was on introducing the concept of participatory action research and to listen to some greetings from Right Livelihood Award Laureates. With interactive and creative methods the participants were then asked to first get to know each other and then present their own field of study/ work and their visionary initiative for right livelihood action that will set the base line for the next days. At the end of this summer school we will come back to these initiatives and ideas and see how we can turn them into action. The first attempt of visionary work lay an inspiring and hopefully fruitful foundation for the participants of the summer school.
During the next week we will try and make as many voices from the Summer School get heard as possible. Through interviews or articles by participants we hope to let everyone become a part of this amazing process full of inspiration and hope, participation and action, reflection and solution seeking.
(Anwar Fazal (RLA Laureate) and Norina Möller (YFP))